The essence of the old Gods has neither faded nor died off but this quintessence instead remains a brilliant striation layered beneath the heaping dimness available to the shite-ridden legacy of mankind as it continues to pile. It is only by possession willfully channeled from the crevasse of obscurity that minds avert themselves from the terminal failures of the present unto upheaval, achieving unreal yet familiar feats of grotesque fortitude along the lines of Brazilian black metal solo act Cursed Excruciation‘s debut full-length, a bloodred temple built in honor of undying maledictions. ‘Arcane Diabolism‘ seethes with the must of a thousand year old cave unsealed and delivers horror from its echoing mouth for the duration of its first ~45 minute statement. Typical as it might appear at face value there is some truly engrossing pitch black and doomed terror available to this exceptional debut.

Cursed Excruciation is one of several projects to have sprung from the mind of Brazilian musician Trance of the Undead (Lunar Kingdom, Saturnian Gate, Clavis Inferni, et al.) beyond 2019 or so. The best known of those projects is probably his eponymous raw black/death metal deal yet for my own taste this particular band is the one to cling to in hopes of violent possession. Developing a sound that’d link Beherit and/or Mystifier influenced style with the heavy/doom metal nodes available to early Greek and Italian black metal the ‘Morbid Catholicism‘ (2021) demo spoke from the mouth of the crypt, an olden Eldritch tide which fixated upon haunting keyboards and miserable 80’s doom metal riffs in black metal context (see also: label mates Necromante). The realization of this idyll was already well formed at that point but arrived in more direct fusion in rough-mixed venture on a second tape (‘Initiation: The Oath of Darkness‘, 2021) giving some direct preview of what ‘Arcane Diabolism‘ was before it’d been properly rendered. With these two releases in mind, and most of their best ideas well exploited within, we’ve developed some clear enough idea of what this debut will manage. The step from demo to album makes great sense and does not constitute a surprising leap into a new direction.

With both “Initiation” and “Beast of Fire” being pulled from ‘Initiation: The Oath of Darkness‘ and featured as key standouts respective to each side of the full listen it gives the keen-eared listener a point of focus beyond the initial rough mixes ’til now wherein the songs themselves have likely been re-recorded or reamped to some degree. The most vital track (opener “Initiation”) appears to have undergone some slight rearrangement, or, either way Loïc F. (Krucyator Studio) has done a fantastic job of bringing the piece and the whole album into another dimension, of arcane horror and the dread of black/doom. The whole undertaking does appear to intentionally invoke the influence of Greek black metal upon South American black metal in the early 90’s per the production sound and arrangements though it isn’t all mid-paced riffs, slow blasts and keyboard flourishes once we get past the impressive archaic lament available to Side A.

For my own taste the jagged blasts and doom-torn guitar progressions of “The Sorcerer of Antioch” leading into Side B opener “Daughters of Nyx” sums the lasting appeal of this album perfectly, a haunting yet kinda nuclear, bestial curse from below which shows no signs of running out of sinister riffs to showcase. This is ultimately the point where I could shake off the ‘side-project’ feeling of the music and became immersed in the churning of their crypts. For this type of music (let’s say ‘Göetia‘ worship for the forever underground ear) to work there is nowhere to hide in terms of sound design, the rhythm guitar work is the major voice and the nuance available and all else develops pace within its droning qualities. In this sense Cursed Excruciation has smartly focused on the efficacy of their guitar work up front and built terrifying atmosphere around it for effect, every moment enhancing the anticipation of the greater lurking thread. It is nauseating, a peaking cemeterial crime committed under twilight as we reach for “Daughters of Nyx”, the arguable peak of the intrigue on the full listen as the final two pieces emphasize the bestial echoes of their sound otherwise.

The listening experience begins dripping with a certain obviate flair per its short introduction but we’re only a minute out from the strong riffs which ultimately guide the sinister creeping of this record otherwise. Cursed Excruciation delivers one of the finest renders, set of rhythms, and overall conceptual feat from the prolific Trance of the Undead thus far and show some ascension unto greater possibilities foundered through persistence of vision. This in and of itself is rare enough but, still, not as important as ‘Arcane Diabolism‘ being a coldly classic yet nuclear deranged feat worth listening to in excess. It bodes well, and deserves a moderately high recommendation per the serious command of these niche stylings into substantive listening.

Moderately high recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Arcane Diabolism
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
RELEASE DATE:January 13th, 2023

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